On Tuesday evenings this April and May I will be teaching a personal writing class through Grackle & Grackle that examines and encourages essay writing in the least stodgy way imaginable. These are not your boring five-paragraph essays you hated from 9th grade or college freshman English. These are forays into yourself as you engage with the world, creative documents that turn both inward and outward.
Here below is the official title and description. Click on any of the links to register. I hope to see you there!
The word essay means “to attempt or try,” and we often use the essay form as a path toward understanding. Writing an essay is therefore a journey in itself. And when we share our essays, they can, as Phillip Lopate suggested, make “the reader feel less lonely in their confusion and darkness.” But one doesn’t have to flounder in despair to engage in this complex and lovely form.
In this course, we will use mentor texts on a variety of subjects and employ multiple forms in our writing. We will dive wholeheartedly into our curiosity. If you find the ordinary five-paragraph essay from your school days tedious, don’t worry. We’ll be experimenting with more exciting structures here.
Bring your past experiences, bring your nascent ideas about concepts outside of yourself, bring your willingness to try new things. And definitely bring something to write with, because this course will be generative, each week. You’ll also have the opportunity in workshop to get feedback on your writing in a collaborative and respectful atmosphere.
This workshop will meet via Zoom on eight Tuesdays evenings from 6:00-9:00 central time, April 4th through May 23rd.
The G&G discounts for their spring classes are as follows: 35% bloom 20% puddle 15% ivy Use them when you register for my class if you need to.
Why do we write poetry, anyway? It’s not like it’s a lucrative literary market (at least not here in the U.S.). It’s not like the general reading public is clamoring for midnight poetry book release parties. How many contemporary poets can the average person name? How many books of poetry does the average reader have on the shelf?
It’s not about any of that, of course, though all kinds of people read poetry. All kinds of people write poetry, too — not just Fancy Published Authors or “academic types.” And there are so many different kinds of poetry out there, with an extraordinarily wide range of accessibility from light verse to down-to-earth, relatable narrative to completely esoteric, and everything in between.
Poetry allows us to make sense of whatever is swirling inside our minds and our hearts. (Just ask any young person with a diary and a penchant for rhyme.) It’s a gift of language and creativity. Edward Hirsch once said to me that poetry was the intersection of experience and vocabulary, and I thought, among all the different ways people can choose to define poetry, that one idea resonated as a baseline.
Many types of writers can benefit from experimenting with poetry. Even though I’m primarily a fiction writer now (professionally), my Creative Writing degree is actually in Poetry. I began my university work as a Fiction student but switched my junior year, and after writing nothing but poetry for a few years, when I came back to writing fiction I realized that everything I’d learned about language and syntax from writing poems had made my prose exponentially better.
And now, I still write poetry because it feels like a more comfortable form of meditation in the midst of my uncomfortably busy life. It helps me process my experiences and my reactions to them in a slightly less frenetic way. And — not gonna lie — most poems take a lot less time to write and revise and polish than the average short story or novel, and there’s something akin to instant gratification from being able to do that. It doesn’t entirely feed my obsession with productivity, but it does feel pretty good.
From time to time, I teach Creative Writing classes outside of my day job. (A significant portion of which job, to be clear, is to teach Creative Writing.) These classes, which are geared toward a wider audience than my school-year courses, are often taught on Zoom outside of typical business hours, so working adults can take them no matter where they’re located. I’ve had attendees from other cities, other states, and even other countries come together in these workshops. It’s wonderful! (I should also note that there isn’t a specific age requirement to attend.)
So here is one of the upcoming classes I’ll be teaching this fall, for Grackle & Grackle, and I hope to see you in it! Click on the link to learn more and/or to register. (I recommend registering early to secure a spot. We keep these groups kind of small-ish so everyone gets personal attention and workshop time.)
Michelle Brittan Rosado wrote that poetry of place “can be a way to dissolve the self into an anonymous landscape” as well as “a map to find ourselves, a space in which to reassemble the annihilated and recover the displaced.” How often has your childhood home been the setting for your dreams?
How often have you returned, in your writing or art or imagination, to the site of a notable first experience? What are the landscapes, real or metaphorical, we have inhabited? What liminal spaces inspire, motivate, or even unsettle us? The places which have mattered most to us live in our subconscious mind long after they stop being physically part of our lives. In this four-week class, we will look at poetry grounded in places both real and imagined. We will dissect both what makes a poem resonate with a reader and what makes particular locations so important to us.
In this generative workshop, we’ll use a variety of prompts to experiment with form and style. You can expect to write new poetry each week and have at least two of your poems workshopped in a collaborative and respectful setting.
So, a few typical questions:
Q: What if I can’t be there every week? A: This workshop is four sessions, but if you’re unable to make all of them, you can still participate, and I’ll catch you up on the course materials you miss.
Q: Is this class for beginners or more advanced poets? A: Both emerging writers and published poets will find this course productive and useful. Because my workshops are generative (i.e. we will generate new writing in each session), I use open-ended prompts that will be useful at multiple skill levels. And as a teacher, I strive to meet each student where they are.
Q: What format will each session follow? A: I try to keep things flexible, but generally you can expect some discussion of already published work to explore technique and substance, at least one writing prompt and time to work on it, and a discussion of attendees’ own work in a respectful and supportive atmosphere. Content topics will vary from week to week, centered around a particular theme.
Q: Okay, but why should I be trying to take a poetry class in these bonkers times? A: What better way to reflect on your experiences and reactions to them than through a guided, focused lens that allows you to compartmentalize and process them in a specific, finite block of time?
There are still some spots open in the two poetry workshops I’m teaching this month, in case you were interested in signing up for them but haven’t yet. Both will be taught on Zoom, so covid surges and geographical distances are not a problem here. 😉
Daily Dose of Poetry is a one-night-only experience through Write About Now as part of their Monday night poetry class series. You can do just mine — happening TOMORROW, June 13th — or get a bundle of weeks at a discount. In this generative workshop, we’ll try our hand at several different poetry prompts designed to kickstart your writing or refresh your writing practice if you’ve been away from it for a while. Each exercise is also translatable, to duplicate or adapt on your own after the workshop ends. You will also get a chance to share and/or workshop what you write during class. Click here for more details and to get the link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wan-academy-daily-dose-of-poetry-w-angelique-jamail-tickets-254249686657?aff=ang
Poetry: Grounded in Place But Not Confined is a four-week workshop through Grackle & Grackle. We’ll be meeting on Tuesday evenings starting this week, June 14th. In this generative and feedback-oriented workshop, we will look at ways poetry inhabits landscapes both literal and figurative and create poems along that theme. You can expect to write new poetry each week and to have at least two of your poems workshopped in a respectful and supportive environment over the course of the four weeks. (And if you’re able to attend most but not all of the sessions, don’t let that stop you from signing up, as I’m happy to share materials with you if you’re absent.) G&G is also great about offering discounts on their classes, too, so if you need one, try these: 15% sun; 25% squawk; 35% sweat. Click here for more information and to register: https://grackleandgrackle.com/product/ajsu22poetry/
I hope to see you in either or both of these workshops! Feel free to share with others who might also be interested.
It is most emphatically summertime here in my fair city. School is out, at least for many of us. Temps in the mid-90s with a real-feel of over 100, and hurricane season is underway, even if the Texas Gulf Coast won’t likely see a ton of action for a while yet.
So here’s a sultry little swing for early June, courtesy of Lana Del Rey.
So it’s a known fact that I no longer teach summer school. I haven’t for many, many years, because I need that time to focus more on my writing. However, I will be teaching some brief Creative Writing workshops this summer for three marvelous CW organizations, and YOU can take them! Yes, that’s right! And since I’ve had a fair number of questions about them, I’m just going to distill all the information into this post now for you. I will list them in order of when they begin. Enjoy.
CLASS #1: Creating a Zine (a.k.a. “Zines: The Ultimate Adventure in Creative Control”) WHEN: 4 Thursday evenings, June 9-30, 6:30-8:30 p.m. WHERE: Writespace — IN PERSON — in Houston
DESCRIPTION: Have you been looking for a way to share your short writings, including ones you’ve created in other Writespace workshops? The subversive, underground art form of the “zine” (short for fanzine) has been the literary world’s best-kept secret for nearly a century. From its roots in science-fiction and fantasy to its established presence in the modern world as a place for art, poetry, and politics, these informal magazines are the ultimate adventure in self-publishing. And best of all, zines are for everyone, every interest, every ability level, and every subject! You need not be a great or experienced artist. Come explore the wide and diverse world of zines through creative writing, art, and craft with award-winning published author Angélique Jamail, the creator of the popular zine Sonic Chihuahua. In this course, you will create your own zine filled with whatever your imagination will allow! This class is appropriate for all skill levels. Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in Zine Fest Houston, a welcoming mainstay of the zine community, in November.
(Apologies to all those who really want to take this class but who live outside of Houston. If there’s enough interest in my offering a Zoom version in the future, let me know, and I’ll see about making that work. You can leave a note in the comments section of this post or contact me about it directly.)
CLASS #2: Daily Dose of Poetry WHEN: (one night only!) Monday, June 13th, 6:00-7:30 p.m. (central time) WHERE: ON ZOOM through Write About Now as part of their weekly poetry workshop series
DESCRIPTION: In this class participants will use short poems and exercises as models for writing poetry and poetic fragments, and will practice techniques to increase observation and lyrical thinking. We’ll look at mentor texts and have a discussion on language and form. We’ll also have exercises in metaphor and imagery. Attendees will get a chance to write short form poems and use the techniques covered in class to enhance their daily writing practice.
CLASS #3: Poetry: Grounded in Place But Not Confined WHEN: 4 Tuesday evenings, June 14 – July 5, 6:00-9:00 p.m. (central time) WHERE: ON ZOOM through Grackle & Grackle
DESCRIPTION: Michelle Brittan Rosado wrote that poetry of place “can be a way to dissolve the self into an anonymous landscape” as well as “a map to find ourselves, a space in which to reassemble the annihilated and recover the displaced.” How often has your childhood home been the setting for your dreams? How often have you returned, in your writing or art or imagination, to the site of a notable first experience? What are the landscapes, real or metaphorical, we have inhabited? What liminal spaces inspire, motivate, or even unsettle us? The places which have mattered most to us live in our subconscious mind long after they stop being physically part of our lives. In this four-week class, we will look at poetry grounded in places both real and imagined. We will dissect both what makes a poem resonate with a reader and what makes particular locations so important to us. In this generative workshop, we’ll use a variety of prompts to experiment with form and style. You can expect to write new poetry each week and have at least two of your poems workshopped in a collaborative and respectful setting.
Grackle & Grackle also offers discounts to those who need them. (The following discounts are followed by their promo code words.) 15% sun 25% squawk 35% sweat